14 cases of COVID-19 at Tower Street prison - Samuda
Fourteen new positive COVID-19 cases were recorded inside the cramped Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre within the last 24 hours.
The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) is reporting that two of the cases are staff members and 12 are inmates.
“This development in the institution has occurred despite our rollout of protocols established by international bodies like the World Health Organization (WHO); Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other benchmark corrective organisations versed in the management of outbreaks within correctional institutions.
These infection prevention and control protocols have been in effect across the department for well over six months,” said Minister Without Portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, Matthew Samuda, in a statement.
Samuda stated that the department would be revisiting its tracking measures given the situation and will release results of the COVID-19 tests immediately rather than by its twice-weekly (Tuesdays and Thursdays) modality on the dashboard on its website.
The DCS said that all the positive test cases are placed in isolation and contact tracing and line listing activities are conducted to curtail the spread in the institution, in line with public health guidelines.
“The department has been consultative in its approach to controlling the cases in the institutions, collaborating with the health ministry and public health departments to conduct testing programmes in centres once any positive cases are detected.
We recently met with the public defender as well to ventilate existing measures at the facilities and seek counsel on what other measures would aid us in our management of the pandemic,” Samuda added.
According to the DCS, the positive cases recorded in correctional centres thus far have been largely asymptomatic, however, the agency says it is mindful that changes in the nature of these cases remain a real possibility.
“With Jamaica at the stage of community spread and many persons being asymptomatic, our responsibility as medical professionals within the correctional service has become much more preemptive in nature, it simply means that we take nothing for granted,” said Director of Medical Services in the Department, Dr Donna-Michelle Royer-Powe.
She disclosed that in September alone, testing for COVID-19 saw almost 300 persons inclusive of correctional staff and inmates being swabbed, the last such exercise taking place at the Tower Street facility where over 100 persons were swabbed.
Reports that the coronavirus had breached Jamaica’s prison system first came on August 30 when it was reported that five cases of COVID-19 were confirmed at the Horizon Adult Remand Centre, a maximum security facility based on Spanish Town Road in lower St Andrew.